We just knew a certain unmentionable film was going to rule the box office come Monday. We just assumed that Kick-A– and its band of R-rated superheroes was going to charge into theaters and win the weekend. I mean, really: Who wants to tangle with a profane, purple-wigged, 11-year-old death jockey?
Turns out, though, Hit-Girl et al ran up against a horde of grizzled dragons—and we all know that it’s a mistake to tangle with largish, fire-breathing reptiles. While we don’t have the weekend’s final figures yet, preliminary estimates suggest that DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon—in its fourth week of release—won the weekend’s box office crown in a squeaker, $20 million to $19.8 million. Date Night and newcomer Death at a Funeral were in a neck-and-neck squabble for third.
Even if Kick-A– eventually claims victory after all the receipts are counted, the folks at Lionsgate must be sorely disappointed. Most folks were predicting the film would snag in the neighborhood of $30 million. Which begs the question: What went wrong?
I can’t help but wonder whether the title alone was enough to turn some folks off. If that wasn’t enough, maybe moviegoers weren’t that interested in seeing an elementary-age girl spit profanities while skewering bad guys with knives. Sure, Kick-A– is the sort of film fanboys salivate over, but maybe most Americans still like their superheroes to be … well, heroic.
Which makes Kick-A–, in a way, so strangely tragic. Because at its core, that’s what the film’s about: Everyday people trying to make a difference. Underneath its violence and gore and profanity and sheer ugginess, there was a good story wanting to be told.
Instead, Kick-A– got mired in a ludicrous amount of content and left it vulnerable to—well, a good story. For this week, at least, dragons win. And I, for one, couldn’t be happier.